Why is it that so many companies are highly focused on the latest customer experience (CX) strategies yet have very little or no data to ensure they are on the right track? As W. Edwards Deming said, ‘without data you’re just another person with an opinion’. Ask any CX strategist or manager about their CX process and you will hear a lot of opinion about how well it’s going and why it works. Dig deeper on how they are so sure and that’s where the detail becomes a bit vague.
The race to being seen as a disrupter or new age thought leader has created a focus on being different without a lot of attention being given to whether or not it’s better for your market. We have become saturated in spin and opinion from the product pushers who use everything from fake news to click farms to fabricate their social media likes and google reviews. It’s becoming harder to know who you can trust with their marketing message. The market is screaming out to know who they can trust in what can appear to be a sea of sharks.
Deming developed a profound distinction on leadership, a combination of three key components that needed to work together to ensure the optimal outcome. The distinction is; Theory + Experience + Prediction = Optimal Results. The challenge with leadership today is that it mainly focuses on the first two. They can tell you in great detail about their Theory (often found on Dr Google) on why it will work. They can tell you stories about their great Experience (which is sometimes hard to confirm) and how it applies to the situation. However, a lot of leaders stop short of making a firm Prediction as this is where the real proof of leadership exists and personal accountability rests on the results. Leaders who put their reputation on the line for their prediction are becoming rare. Often the key reason is they don’t have the data to make a prediction and from an investors point of view, that’s not good enough.
Clarity leads to Power
If the performance of how well a strategy is or isn’t working is not clearly measured, then it’s very debatable if it should be continued. If it’s not measured there can be little trust in its prediction as it’s merely a guess, and a guess is just another opinion. I find it staggering how many CX mangers (or marketing, sales, CEO’s) who are so sure about how well they are performing but cannot tell you why from a customer experience point of view. Clarity of what’s working and what’s not working can help to predict the future. To their defense a big issue is the rapid pace and constant change of digital strategy, it barely stays the same in order to make a prediction and agility is now the focus to keep up with what everyone else is doing.
However, as Jeff Bezos said, “obsess over your customers and not over your competitors”. You will find that this alone will make a significant impact on your CX relationships and loyalty. It’s vital to keep them in the picture and measure how they feel about doing business with you. The challenge is making sure the Theory behind the measurement is correct and the right Experience is applied to achieve the data and insights. If this isn’t correct, the Prediction isn’t any more than another opinion.
Responsibility is vital
The next time you’re involved in a significant strategy make sure you have the ability to measure the outcome before you start. So much money is totally wasted because no one took accountability for the outcome. In many situations it’s far too easy to make an excuse and blame someone else. Consider being the type of leader who knows how to measure how well you’re doing. Then follow the Deming principle and become trusted for your ability to make predictions. Most importantly when they don’t work as planned, own it, find out why, learn from it and then you can fine tune your prediction.
All the great leaders of the past you will find have followed this type of principle. They slowed down, got their facts right and then could speed up with far greater accuracy. They also worked to the theory of “Different isn’t always better, but better is always different.”